The Eddies!—annual, advocate-nominated and voted awards—feature outstanding policy and advocacy wins from the past year.
Nominations tell the story of how advocates improved policy and advanced opportunity, equity, and excellence for students, one community and campaign at a time.
This Eddies! category honors local, state, or national leaders who consistently go above and beyond their job description to connect and support peers advancing state and local advocacy policy. This category recognizes advocates who thoughtfully and intentionally support the leadership and work of others, strengthening the Network and the sector. This category was previously called Network MVP.
See a complete list of 2021 nominees in all Eddies! categories.
- Robin Lake, Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)
Suzanne Kubach Network Weaver of the Year Nominees
- David Mansouri, Tennessee SCORE
- Jen Walmer, Democrats for Education Reform Colorado/Education Reform Now Colorado
- Maya Martin Cadogan, DC PAVE (Parent Amplifying Voices in Education)
- Scott Laband, Colorado Succeeds
Suzanne Kubach Network Weaver of the Year Nominees
David Mansouri, Tennessee SCORE
David Mansouri, President and CEO of Tennessee SCORE, is a tireless advocate for student-centered policies. David is often called on by leaders and partners across the Network for thought partnership, and he consistently works to ensure pivotal discussions include the stakeholders most impacted. David showed this advocacy during the special legislative session in 2021, when he prioritized defending assessments, publicly reporting data, and allowing flexibility on aspects of accountability. David also led SCORE to join 45 other advocacy groups in a joint statement encouraging the US Department of Education to hold the line on statewide assessment nationally and organized numerous rounds of statewide polling to understand parent opinion surrounding assessment.
David regularly shares strategies with education advocacy partners throughout the country and often dedicates time to serving as a thought partner to other PIE network members. David’s visionary leadership and commitment to students is evident in his work at SCORE and in his partnership in the PIE Network, including his role as a PIE Network Board Member.
Jen Walmer, Democrats for Education Reform Colorado/Education Reform Now Colorado
Jen Walmer has been a relentless leader in her work to advance policies that support equitable outcomes for Colorado’s students and defeat policies that would harm students most in need. She has served as ERN CO’s Director for eight years. This year, ERN CO’s legislative victories touched every facet of Colorado’s education system, from significantly increasing school funding based on equity, creating a new agency focused on early childhood education, advancing interventions for students following the pandemic, supporting behavioral health, and working towards transformational adjustments in higher education, among other legislative accomplishments. Every bill ERN CO opposed was either significantly altered or stopped, and her team modified bills that sought to unravel spring testing and audit the accountability with biased framing. As a leader within ERN, Jen has directly led to greater impact from our national teams , and chapters, more effective advocacy campaigns, smarter data from polling, better planning and messaging on key issues, and increased personal staff happiness as more leaders realize their goals with her coaching. There are dozens of partners in Colorado and outside the state who could speak to similar support from her. She is a true partner anywhere work is being done to meet student needs.
Maya Martin Cadogan, DC PAVE (Parent Amplifying Voices in Education)
Maya’s brilliant mind, connection to communities, and deep relationship with leaders across systems make her work truly transformational. She is a thought leader locally and nationally around community engagement and education policy, as she can speak to the diverse perspectives of families and, as a voracious reader and policy wonk, share data and sharp analysis that dispel misinformation and pushes others’ thinking in new ways. On the local level, she brought together over 30 DC education leaders of color to gather with District leadership to advocate for equitable policies that still meet today. This was done in her personal capacity, and with many in her personal circle, to further the work. She’s been a leader in the pandemic response with school leaders particularly around vaccinations, even taking an individual parent to get the shot herself.
Maya is undoubtedly seen as a mentor and leader around policy and advocacy strategy, navigating relationships with funders, and building trust and community. One example on the national level was her work with the PIE Network to organize around extending the waiver from the USDA to eliminate barriers for families to access food at school. The overall list is endless, and her unmatched impact shows up in big and small ways: inspiring connections, ideas, and movements across organizations, jurisdictions, and states.
Robin Lake, Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE)
Before many of us had even heard of COVID-19 in the US, Robin Lake was sounding the alarm about the impact it would have on students and schools. Watching schools shutter in her hometown, Robin tweeted: “Why can’t a large district like Seattle/Tacoma send home all kids who can work from home. Have very small, extra hygienic in-person classes for those who stay?” By March 10 (the day before the WHO declared the pandemic), Robin was already sharing best practices from Washington schools that had transitioned to online learning. In addition to keeping a pulse of the field, Robin provided testimony to members of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee and launched The Evidence Project, bringing together hundreds of researchers to work collectively as never before. She also raised public awareness of how students were faring during the pandemic with over 1100 news stories including quotes in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, TIME, and PBS. The members of the PIE Network were uniquely positioned to support families and students during COVID-19, and Robin Lake was out in front of all of us.
Scott Laband, Colorado Succeeds
Scott often refers to this work as a bout of judo, constantly redirecting tensions and barriers into insights and momentum. Rather than fighting with brute force, he seeks to work with and in unison with people to achieve success. Scott stepped in as PIE Network Board Chair during a critical point for the Network including a leadership transition, new strategic plan and direction, and a major ramp-up of support for members during the pandemic. His leadership has been critical during these periods to make sure the Network fully lives into its purpose to connect, support, and catalyze the work of advocates on the front lines.
Scott is purpose-driven. He works to serve people and solve problems that matter, measuring success by the number of lives impacted. He is people-focused, recognized for growing more leaders who are similarly committed to purpose-driven work – empowering them with vision, autonomy, and massive amounts of support. Scott is values-based and leads with authenticity, empathy, and humility.
Scott is a founding board member of Rocky Mountain Prep Charter School, a participant of the Joyful Impact Accelerator, a member of various government, local, and nonprofit boards.